The Blue Sword - Robin McKinley 2.5 Stars, but I rounded up because of the world building.

This is a story about a girl named Harry who goes to stay with a nice childless couple in a desert after the death of her father. Her brother is stationed at the little outpost there, and unlike most of the people, Harry finds that she really loves the desert. After hearing some rumors about the people who live in the Hills being magical, Harry chances across their king one day and everything changes. She is taken by the king and becomes one of the Free Hillfolk by choice. She goes to battle against their enemies and in doing so becomes legendary.

I so wish I could say I loved this book, but it was pretty hard for me to get through. I felt that the entire story was written in a very shallow way, and that if only I could dust off the glass I could see the real story underneath. There are a few POV issues as well, and it's not even consistent switches. Sometimes it would be just a sentence or so, and other times it would be a few pages. There was no change in fonts between when a character was thinking or talking, the names of the horses switched randomly between their Hill name and Outlander names, and the relationships were never given any depth. In fact, one such set of relationships grew from a smile and then was suddenly BFFs on a mission. I wanted so much more from this than I got, and I just feel let down. I wonder if I had read this as a young girl if I would feel differently, and I think I would since the story itself has a great premise, but at this point in my reading life I want to feel every grain of sand that stung her face, and every moment that she felt tension for her King, or her battle. Instead I found myself re-reading sentences, or paragraphs, throughout the entire story as well as forgetting some of the characters.

A good part for me were the relationships with the animals! Harry has a big cat that sleeps with her and a stunning horse. The world building was good and very descriptive (couldn't she have kept that up with the characters?!) and some of the magic was really interesting, but so under explored that it's a negative as well as a positive. There was a satisfactory wrap up (it wasn't an epilogue, but read like one) and that made me happy even as I thought it could have been deeper. I wouldn't personally recommend this, but I also wouldn't say that this is a bad story. Just not my style or taste.